Archive for November, 2010


Preaching On The Family

November 29, 2010

Yesterday morning I concluded a 9 part sermon-series on “God, Marriage and Family.” Here are the sermons if you want to listen:

1. The God-centred Family – Genesis 2:18-22
2. Marriage… in the Beginning – Genesis 2:18-24
3. Family and the Fall – Genesis 3
4. Wives – Ephesians 5:21-24
5. Husbands – Ephesians 5:25-33
6. Marriage and Singleness – 1 Corinthians 7:1-7
7. Singleness – 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
8. Children – Ephesians 6:1-3
9. Parents – Ephesians 6:4

I’ve also drawn up a list of some additional resources for those who want to examine topics further:





Passionate Preaching.

November 27, 2010

Matthew R. Perry on what he learned one Sunday when he forgot his notes.


Bad Expository Preaching

November 26, 2010

According to 9 Marks, bad expository preaching involves the following:

  1. Do no application.
  2. Use no illustrations or stories.
  3. Give excessive exegetical detail.
  4. Fail to set the text in its canonical horizon.
  5. Fail to connect the text to the gospel.
  6. Fail to preach the text with appropriate urgency and weight.

Read the full explanation of each point.


NIMA 2010 Audio

November 19, 2010

So I glad I invested two days this week to go to NIMA 2010. The speakers were Bryan Chapell (on Christ-centred application) and Vaughan Roberts (on Titus). I’m planning to listen to these talks again!

Session 1: Titus (1): The Preacher in God’s Plan, Vaughan Roberts

Session 2: Preaching the Power of Grace: The Power of Grace, Bryan Chapell

Session 3: Preaching the Power of Grace: The Power of Grace & The Application of Grace, Bryan Chapell

Session 4: Titus (2): The Preacher and Godliness, Vaughan Roberts

Session 5: Titus (3): The Preacher and the Gospel, Vaughan Roberts

Session 6: Preaching the Power of Grace: Exploring New Application Structures, Bryan Chapell

Session 7: Titus (4): The Preacher and False Teaching, Vaughan Roberts


Why Bother With Expository Preaching? (David Jackman)

November 19, 2010

A 15 minute introduction to expository preaching by David Jackman.

HT: Adrian Reynolds


Counseling and Preaching

November 19, 2010

Ed Welch explains how counseling and preaching connect. His conclusion:

Counseling will make your preaching more persuasive because your experience with the back-and-forth will show you how Scripture impacts people and this will help your sermons to do so too. You will appeal, invite, induce, anticipate roadblocks, tell stories, be more succinct, and scratch your head as you search for the most beautiful words to describe a beautiful gospel. You will find yourself preaching in a way that echoes the book of Proverbs. That book is more counseling than preaching. The king is speaking to beloved royal children. Notice that he speaks both personally and persuasively throughout.


Must Our Preaching Change? (David Jackman)

November 18, 2010

Ten Questions For Expositors – John Van Eyk

November 15, 2010

John Van Eyk is a  Canadian, ministering in the Highlands of Scotland. Pastor of Tain/Fearn Associated Presbyterian church, John is married to Lucy. Together they have six children. For the opportunity of hearing some of his edifying preaching, listen here.

1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?

Since in the preaching of the Word of God Christ is preaching (Romans 10:14-15; Ephesians 2:17) and his sheep hear his voice (John 10:16) I believe that preaching is hugely significant in the life of the Church. Through preaching faithfully done the elect are brought to Christ and are corrected, rebuked, and encouraged for their progress and joy in the faith so that their joy in Christ Jesus will overflow. This is what I believe and I long that I would take the great task of preaching with all the seriousness that it warrants.

2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?

I’m not sure that I have! If you knew me as a wee boy you might have heard me preach to the sitting room furniture. I periodically had a sense that I was destined for the ministry even before I trusted in Christ. When I became a Christian in my first year of college, I prepared to go to seminary trusting that since God was my Father he would orchestrate things for me to become a minister if that was his plan for me. I had been encouraged by many along the way to pursue the ministry and when I started preaching Christians appeared to be helped by my sermons. Upon completion of my seminary training I was called by a local congregation and have been preaching regularly since, ever grateful for and humbled by the privilege of preaching Christ from all of Scripture.

3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?

I used to say 10-12 hours but I’m not sure that I am able to quantify the preparation time. Reading that is done in theology, for example, might not have a direct connection to the sermon I’m preparing but as I mature and am shaped by all the Scriptures my understanding of any one passage is sure to be helped. All praying, reading, ruminating, pastoral care, and life experiences are funnelled into each sermon one prepares.

4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallise it?

I attempt to preach any chosen passage in a coherent manner so one could probably trace a main theme through it. I tend to be more concerned about the flow of the sermon than the ‘big idea’; I do not want to force people to endure a disjointed and jarring discourse with little inner cohesion. The reason I am not so focussed on one major theme or idea is because I think that the congregation is helped by any one sermon in a variety of ways as the Holy Spirit brings the Word home to individual Christians. I don’t think Christian maturity is achieved by an accumulation of what I deem to be the big idea of my sermons. I think that what I might say this Lord’s Day, perhaps not even a significant point, might make something a member of my congregation heard or read nine months ago finally click. As the people of God sit under the ministry of the Word week in and week out they will be shaped by the Scriptures so that over time their instinctive response to the plethora of situations they face will be godly. If there is one note that I long people to hear each Lord’s day, from a variety of passages and perspectives and in a variety of ways, it is a rich Christ for poor sinners, both converted and unconverted sinners. That can’t be heard enough.

5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?

I was greatly helped a number of years ago by conversations I had with Geoffrey Thomas and Ian Hamilton. Geoffrey Thomas told me that it took some years for a minister to find himself. Ian Hamilton encouraged me not to try to be anyone other than myself and to be the best John van Eyk John van Eyk could be. I think it is important to listen to other preachers and learn from them for your own improvement but it is equally important to recognise and rejoice in the variety of giftings the Lord Jesus has blessed his Church with and, again, strive, by God’s grace, to be the best you you can be.

6. What notes, if any, do you use?

Though my practice is evolving, I find it helpful to write out a fairly full manuscript. Writing the sermon aids me in terms of structure, flow, and word choice and helps me include things I have learned through my study. Before I preach I distil the sermon to an outline which I take with me to the pulpit.

7. What are the greatest perils that preachers must avoid?

I suppose this differs with each preacher. There is such a vast number of perils that we must always remember our need to be kept by the Lord. There is discouragement, superficial satisfaction, impatience, laziness, preaching what you don’t experience, spiritual coldness, and professionalism. The lure of prominence may be a struggle for some, a persistent discontentment with where you are ministering and the thought that you are so gifted you really need a wider sphere of ministry. In short, the pursuit of greatness. When I am tempted by this I often think back to a comment by Sinclair Ferguson at a conference some years ago where he, among others, was asked where all the great preachers were today. His response, which received a standing ovation, was something like this: “It is not great preachers that the Church needs or that God has been pleased to use exclusively throughout history. Though there have been outstanding figures in the history of the Church the Church needs faithful men whose names might never be known outside the walls of their own church who week in and week out explain and apply the Word of God.” That was tremendously encouraging.

8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (eg. pastoral care, leadership responsibilities).

Two things help me try to keep the balance. First, the fact that we minister not simply by our lips but by our lives (1 Timothy 4:16) means that I dare not neglect my wife and family. Second, the recognition that while my main work is preaching the Word nothing done in the name of Christ for his brothers and sisters is insignificant. This truth both keeps me in my study for study and sermon preparation and out of my study without begrudging the time spent away from my books.

9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers, The Preacher and Preaching, edited by Samuel T. Logan, Jr, particularly Edmund P Clowney’s contribution, ‘Preaching Christ From All the Scriptures’, The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges, and, Spirit Empowered Preaching, by Arturo Azurdia.

I often say that I don’t know where I would be as a Christian and a minister without Sinclair Ferguson. I was introduced to his teaching through his book Children of the Living God. I have listened to his three lectures on The Marrow Controversy numerous times along with countless sermons, read his books, and learned under him at Westminster. I have been gripped numerous times by his emphasis on the sheer graciousness of God in Christ. I owe a great debt to him.

10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?

When I ministered in Canada my congregation had an intern for an eight week stint in the summer. We would read books together, go on pastoral visitations, critique each other’s sermons, share meals, and numerous conversations on all aspects of the ministry. I am now involved in a fledgling organisation called The 2 Timothy 4 Trust which aims to increase the number of churches with excellent preaching in Scotland.


Robert Letham on the Trinity

November 11, 2010

It was a real pleasure to be joined last night at Ballymoney Baptist by Dr Robert Letham, the Presbyterian scholar and author. He was interviewed, and then spoke to us on the Trinity.

Here is the audio: “The Trinity.”


Evaluating Preachers

November 10, 2010

J.W Hendriyx has recently spent time on a pastoral search commitee. Through that process he has drawn up this helpful set of criteria to evaluate preaching and preachers.

To summarise, he says that sermons should:

  • be authoratative
  • be logical
  • involve indicatives and imperatives
  • have exegetical accuracy
  • possess doctrinal substance
  • contain pointed application
  • should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.

There is also a thoughtful list concerning evaluating the potential pastor’s leadership.


Jonathan Edwards’ Preaching

November 9, 2010

Steve Lawson is a man who values church history and speaks about it engagingly.  Here Dr Lawson discusses the preaching of Jonathan Edwards.


Does Your Manuscript Serve Your Sermon? (pt 3)

November 8, 2010

Previously I’ve suggested that our manuscripts serve our sermons when they are easy on the eye and when they are marked for preaching, not just reading.

Today we add a third point. Manuscripts serve our sermon when they are relatively inconspicuous.

Several things should be considered here:

1) Is my manuscript too large? Generally, a manuscript will be less conspicuous the smaller it is. Those who can find ways of slipping their manuscript within the confines of their bible, for example, will draw less attention to their notes than those notes which obviously protrude.

2) Do I look too much at my manuscript? Perhaps this is the main way we make our manuscripts conspicuous. The more we read from our notes, the more the congregation will be aware of them. The easiest way to make our manuscripts less noticeable is look at them less.

3) How inconspicuously do I move from page to page? Unless you are able to fit all your notes on to one sheet, the challenge arises of how to move from page to page without drawing too much attention. Turning pages not only draws attention to our manuscripts. It can downright distract from the sermon. This is a problem, because we want people to be thinking about our message, not our manuscript.  So how can we be less obvious in the way we move pages?  Some suggestions:

  • Maintain eye contact when turning pages. During the last sentence of each page, turn the page while still looking at the congregation. If you are looking at your notes while turning the page, it is much more obvious. Do the page shift while speaking mid-sentence and maintaining eye contact.
  • Consider sliding pages. This saves you from turning the sheet which brings the paper into the eye line of the congregation. Slide the page you’ve just used to the left, and then slide it under to the bottom of the pile. This is much less conspicuous.
  • Try using a folder. This is what I use.  Not only does such a folder prevent you from getting pages out of order (sometimes this can happen accidentally when sliding sheets) but I find the pages much easier to turn. Although I do turn (rather than slide) pages, because the pages are in a folder sheath I can bend the pages over in a subtle way.


At the end of the day, sermon manuscripts will not make or break a sermon. Sermon manuscripts are not the key to edifying the saints; nor do they impinge on the sovereignty of God in conversion. The key is to preach the Word, not organise our notes better.

Nonetheless, a better format of sermon manuscript can significantly improve a preacher’s communication. If developing more useful notes helps us speak with greater clarity (while not distracting the congregation in the process) then that surely can’t be a bad thing.